Former San Jose official challenges ally for District 4 seat
Former Assemblymember Kansen Chu is pictured in this file photo.

    Tensions are rising as a former California lawmaker seeks his old San Jose City Council seat, a position held by his close political ally.

    Former state Assemblymember Kansen Chu, who at one time represented District 4 in San Jose, and current D4 Councilmember David Cohen both started their political careers roughly two decades ago on board of the Berryessa Union School District. Chu initially encouraged Cohen to run for the board in 2006 and ever since the two have long supported each other throughout their political careers.

    That was until Chu took to Instagram on June 7 to announce a run for city council with the slogan, “Experience that Delivers,”—officially challenging Cohen who is seeking reelection. The post did not indicate when Chu plans to start campaigning. He previously weighed running for state Assembly again.

    “After talking with my family and many District 4 residents, I have decided to run for the San Jose council,” Chu told San José Spotlight.

    Kansen Chu’s post on Instagram announcing his run for San Jose City Council.

    Cohen said he heard rumors Chu was considering a run for his seat a few months back, but despite the public announcement, Cohen is focusing on his own reelection campaign efforts. Cohen has served as District 4 councilmember since 2021 and said he still has long-term projects he wants to complete.

    “I was a bit surprised,” Cohen told San José Spotlight. “I was disappointed that he would put his ambition against the relationship that we built over the years.”

    Chu said his run has nothing to do with Cohen, and is instead inspired by what is in the best interest of the city.

    “I am happy to offer a choice for the voters in D4,” Chu said. “This is not about David Cohen or Kansen Chu or anybody else. It is about the quality of lives in San Jose now and in the future.”

    Chu left the state Assembly in 2020 after six years to return back to the Berryessa school board, where he served for one year. Chu said he left the post in 2021 due to family health issues in order to spend more time with his mom before she died.

    Chu has yet to file official campaign paperwork, according to city documents.

    Chu told San José Spotlight his platform will focus on public safety, homelessness and housing and city parks and recreation services—including community centers and libraries offering programs for seniors and children.

    “I have and will always look for opportunities to serve our communities in San Jose, especially in the East side and North San Jose,” Chu said.

    The former assemblymember previously found himself in troubled waters while in office when he was accused of “racist and hateful” comments in 2020 while he was running for Santa Clara County supervisor. When explaining why he voted against legislation that suggested repealing affirmative action—which boosts hiring minorities and underrepresented communities—Chu allegedly told the World Journal, a Chinese language newspaper, that during his time on the Berryessa school board many Hispanic parents told him that they don’t care about their child’s education.

    Chu denied the comments and said they were taken out of context and were “a desperate ploy” by his opponent. City leaders called for Chu’s resignation but to no end, as Chu continued to deny the validity of the statements.

    “Before my mom’s passing, this was home for my four-generation family. My (family is) here to stay for the foreseeable future,” Chu said. “I want to give back to the community, basically for the love of the people.”

    Contact Madison Wilber at minute[email protected] or follow @minutewithmadison on Instagram.

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